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How Does it feel when the Journey is Over?


I’m interested in the aftermath of expeditions. We all daydream about doing trips – that is fun. It’s pretty obvious what we enjoy about being away on adventures, the actual time spent out in the wild. But what people do not often think about is what happens after the journey is over. How does it feel to finish a journey? Does it guarantee happiness and satisfaction? It’s a huge topic and one I personally have spent many years pondering. I hope that this post will get a few thoughts stirring amongst anyone planning a big trip, or decompressing afterwards.

Charlie Walker has done lots of big adventures. I collared him the moment he finished cycling 43,000 miles round the world and asked him five quick questions. I then asked him the same questions after 6 months and a year to see how perspective and thoughts change over time.

  • How does it feel to know you have cycled round the world?
  • How does it feel now the biggest adventure of your life is over?
  • What’s your plan for the next month?
  • What impact has cycling round the world had on your life?
  • What next? (My most-hated question!)

Here are his replies:

1. I haven’t really done that. I’ve sort of cycled on the world. But it feels as though I can now trivialise relatively smaller challenges or problems in life.
2. It feels surprisingly normal and just sort of fine really. I was increasingly ready to come home for the last few months and had plenty of time to try and get my head straight before arriving.
3. Take lots of showers, make old friends and find a way to earn some money.
4. It’s made me patient. Long periods of time are shorter than they used to be.
5. Write a book, stare at maps and daydream.

6 months later:

1. I feel certainly more confident than I used to. I now feel I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to. But it also feels a bit like a faint dream that seems sweeter the more faint it becomes.
2. I might cheekily circumvent that by saying that the longest adventure of my life is over but it may not prove my biggest. For the first few weeks after returning I was ecstatic to be back but then a couple of months of itchy-footedness and anticlimax set in. With a little more distance now, I feel happy, proud of myself and excited to see where it takes me.
3. Continue work on my first book when I can find time amongst my busy 9-6 job.
4. I hope I’m more worldly and patient but do get fed up of being introduced as “Charlie who cycled around the world”.
5. Develop my writing, give more talks at schools and the like while spinning the globe until I land on the next adventure idea.

A year after the trip was over:

1. Increasingly distant. It’s actually something I’m slightly embarrassed to talk about it social situations. Fearful of sounding like a broken record.
2. I feel that the longest adventure of my life is over but hopefully not the biggest, nor the most challenging.
3. Send my first manuscript to publishers and continue giving talks at schools.
4. I feel very confident but now struggle to feel fulfilled in everyday life. Adventure and “normality” – it’s a balance we’re all trying to strike.
5. Something chilly in Russia… but the plans are still a secret!
Thank you, Charlie, for your thoughts! If you’d like Charlie to speak at a school, or if you can help him get his book published, please drop him a line
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  1. Great article. Thanks.
    I did an epic adventure myself once, it was a lot shorter than going around the world. But I can relate to the emotions you write about.

    As a result of my ride, I created a graphic memento which encompasses the adventure onto 1 single print in an interesting way. It was actually so fulfilling doing it (it gave me the right to stare at maps) that I started a business called MassifCentral and create artworks for others. Please get in touch.

    Thanks . J

  2. Nothing so impressive as James’ map art, but I did once write some new words to a classic Johnny Cash song on return from a week in the Welsh mountains with DofE teams…

  3. Hi Alistair, just starting out on the expedition and adventure front so don’t have much to say there… but it was your very last comment about decompressing afterwards that made me think. After having served many times in the Middle East with the RAF over the last 26 odd years I can truly relate to how much this affects me. When I was younger (20) my decompression was simply going to the pub to tell the best stories, but with age, time and seeing more and more horrible things the decompression is longer and more intense and requires much help and understanding from friends, family and colleagues!
    Fortunately, I have been in Austarlaia for the last 4 years but will be returning in July and I’m already starting to wonder what the effects will be on my small family. My kids (8 & 10) and my wife, returning from 4 1/2 years in the sun with quite a few lifestyle changes going back to the North of Scotland.
    Your 5 Questions, albeit the wording has changed in a few of them, have made me think of how do I help them answer these questions in the very near future?

    Thanks Gary

    • Alastair Posted

      Hi Gary, You should look at Matt Prior’s website (the adventurer, not the cricketer) – he’s ex RAF too.
      Good luck!

      • Gary Banford Posted

        Hi Alastair,
        Thank you, I’ve had a look at Matts website, looks interesting and def’ something I will look closer at when I’m back in Blighty, wherever the RAF send me!

        Love your books by the way, well I’m half way through book 2, my boy on the other hand finished off both books in just over a week. He loved them.

        I just finished my second, in a week, ‘Micro Adventure’ today. Topped Cradle Mountain and Crater Peak in Tasmania and last week did a 23km down hill MTB track on my old Betty (18 year old mountain bike) got lots of scars to prove it and only bent the handle bars once.

        Thank you again and I’ll stop stalking now.

        Cheers Gary



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